NewsGuard – a platform run by trained journalists to fight false news, misinformation, and disinformation – has come up against the Daily Mail, after claiming the Mail Online website failed to maintain “basic standards of accuracy or accountability”.
Despite having changed its original review (following what I imagine were some intense talks with the media outlet), the NewsGuard plug-in still warns users that Mail Online:
- fails to gather and present information responsibly
- fails to handle the difference between news and opinion
- fails to provide the names of writers
In a world of fake news, it can be difficult for people to disseminate fact from fiction – and news from opinion. The late author and journalist Christopher Hitchens famously gave an interview where he declared he did not read newspapers. Instead he became a journalist so he did not have to rely on them for information.
A recent report by the US-based Pew Research Centre found that only 48 per cent of UK adults believe news media are getting the facts right – the worst rate for trustworthiness in western Europe.
Many people argue that technology has had a detrimental effect on journalism over the years, with social media, fake news and the filter bubble having fundamentally changed how we digest news. However, organisations and tech platforms like NewsGuard, which is aiming to improve trust and accountability as well as improve awareness of poor journalism amongst readers, are a positive step in the right direction.
As things progress, readers still have a responsibility to do their own research; looking across the spectrum at a news item and never relying solely on one source. In the short term, how many other national publications will fall foul of NewsGuard’s standards?
PR TIP: Read news. All types of news. The more informed you are the more creative you can be for your clients.